Type of Oil for Air Compressor and Why is it Important?

Oil for Air Compressor

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Air compressor oil is an essential component that the air compressors need to function and run smoothly. But the oil is available in different types. So, what type of oil should you use for your air compressor?

Commonly air compressor oil comes in two types. Mineral oil is one type, while synthetic oil is another. So now, figuring out which of the two is suitable for your air compressor can be a bit of a hassle.

We hope reading the article will clear up all your confusion, and you will understand what type of oil you need for your air compressor needs.

Know the Types of Air Compressors Oil

There are two types of air compressor oil: synthetic oil and mineral oil. This is like any other engine oil, and the oil used depends on the air compressor type. The age of the air compressor also matters when deciding which oil to use. And the detailed discussion below will be helpful to understand better. So, let’s discuss these two oils in detail below.

Mineral Oil

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Mineral oil is used to make standard air compressor oil, which gets its base from petroleum refining. If you don’t use your compressor continuously like home users, this oil is best for you. In light-and medium-duty compressors, it is an excellent alternative to synthetic oil because it is cheaper than synthetic oil.

Synthetic Oil

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Synthetic air compressors use a synthetic base. Compared with traditional air compressor oils, synthetic air compressor oils undergo intensive processing. Thus, it allows compressors to run quietly and protects them against overheating, as you can use it at temperatures far greater than mineral oil. Synthetic oil is ideal for professionals who use their compressors very frequently in a week. When your compressor runs on synthetic oil, it will be quieter and more efficient.

Related: What Is The Quietest Air Compressor And How To Quiet?

What Type of Oil Should You Use for Your Air Compressor?

The type of oil you use varies based on several factors. Just like the type of compressor you are using and how you are using it. If you do not use your compressor frequently, you can use mineral or standard oil. We recommend standard compressor oil for home compressors and those who don’t use their compressor very much. Regarding light to medium-duty compressors, mineral oils are much more affordable than synthetic blends.

On the other hand, synthetic oil will work perfectly fine for professionals or regular users of their compressors. Unlike natural gas compressors, synthetic compressors run much smoother, are somewhat quieter, and can protect against overheating.

Air compressor manufacturers usually recommend particular oils for their air compressors. Reading its instructions, you can find out which oil works best for your compressor. Anyway, no matter what type of oil you use, whether synthetic, standard, or alternative, it must not be a detergent.

Our recommendation, if your warranty guidelines do not mention any specific oil type, is to use standard compressor oils that weigh 20 or 30 pounds. A 30-weight oil offers more protection during warmer months due to its viscosity. However, when the compressor is needed in colder environments, a 20-weight oil will work much better.

Importance of Using the Right Compressor Oil

Using the right compressor oil to protect your engine and mechanical components is vital. Moreover, there are other benefits associated with oil usage. Which are:

  • Absorption of heat: Compressed air produces a lot of heat absorbed by compressor oil. It keeps the compressor cool. As a result of the compression process, oil can absorb the heat and allow the compressor to operate at lower temperatures.
  • Oxidation resistance through additives: The oil used in air compressors does not react with oxygen and does not produce acid when it oxidizes because oils have additives. These additives also help to prevent corrosion and rusting of the motor. Many commercially available types of additives can be of great use.
  • Maintaining viscosity in cold temperatures: Air compressor oil maintains its viscosity despite freezing temperatures, whereas some oils are unable to As well as protecting all internal elements during stationary periods, the proper lubricant will minimize the chance of unexpected breakdowns.
  • Enhances the lifespan of the lubricant: Air compressor oil additives also extend the life of the grease, protect machine components when in standby mode, and make it adaptable to many conditions.

Can Motor Oil be An Alternative to Compressor Oil?

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The answer is “No.” Specially designed compressor oil contains no detergents and is used only in air compressors. But the majority of motor oils are not intended for use with air compressors. Instead, they usually contain detergents beneficial for internal combustion engines but can injure air compressors. So, if you use motor oil in your air compressor, the detergent will quickly build up carbon in your air compressor.

Are There Any Compressors That Run Without Oil?

Yes, there is. But in the beginning, oil-free air compressors are superb, but eventually, they wear out and can no longer be lubricated. Moreover, the lifespan of an oil-free air compressor is typically shorter than that of an oil-lubricated air compressor. 12V air compressors are one of them.

Whether it be pharmaceuticals or food and beverages, reputed industries are more careful about product quality than others to avoid losses. And that is why to prevent losses. As a result, they require high-purity compressed air that is free of oil. Even more, it is necessary to use a filter occasionally. Thus, Ceccato manufactures oil-free compressors with no lubricant, allowing them to offer compressed air purity up to class 0.

As part of their entire offer, they also offer oil-free machines for semi-professional use, which need less maintenance and work only on a limited basis.

Another issue is that oil-free compressors are noisier than lubricated air compressors.


The air compressor can get damaged if you use the wrong oil type. By filling your compressor with the correct oil, you can ensure its health. You may also want to invest in energy-efficient oil in the long run.

Choosing the right oil will maximize the life of your air compressor and reduce energy consumption, friction between various motor components, and compressor wear. So now you know which oil is suitable for your air compressor.

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